March 28, 2012
Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Re: Landmark Designation for Horse Auction House, 128 East 13th Street, Manhattan
Dear Chairman Tierney:
With its strong and unique architectural design and storied history, the Van Tassell & Kearney Horse Auction House at 128 East 13th Street is clearly a strong candidate for landmarking on both architectural and cultural grounds.
The 1903 structure, which had once served such wealthy New York families as the Vanderbilts and Belmonts, appears to be the last surviving example of a horse and carriage auction house in New York City. During World War II the building housed a training program for women working in wartime industry, part of a national effort that proved to be a milestone in the history of equal rights for woman. For many years it served as artist Frank Stella’s sculpture studio: this seminal modern artist not only influenced a younger generation of artists but such prominent and influential architects as Frank Gehry.
Architecturally, the building’s Beaux-Arts façade, defined by small ovular and round windows, a grand arch, and a barrel-vaulted roof profile, is highly distinctive. The bold and eye-catching composition and elegant but spare ornamentation reflect a wonderful aesthetic tension between honest functionality and gilded age embellishment.
Preservationists have been advocating for landmark protection for this building for quite some time. We ask the Commission to vote without delay to designate the Horse Auction House an Individual Landmark and grant this endangered historic structure the protection it deserves. Thank you.
Richard D. Moses